Redlands Police have accused two “career criminals” of burglarizing an American Legion building and a nearby animal hospital, causing thousands in damage, and one of the suspects remains at large.
The burglary happened on Wednesday morning around 3:30 a.m., according to Joe Gercis, manager of American Legion Post 106, a nonprofit group serving war veterans.
Gercis received a text notification from the building’s alarm system. He said the heist was carefully calculated.
“There is no doubt in my mind that they knew the in and outs of this property,” Gercis tells KTLA’s Shelby Nelson.
One suspect is in custody while police continue to hunt for the second suspect. Surveillance video caught the brazen thieves in action just one week before Veteran’s Day.
“Once they entered through the property after cutting the fence and then jumping the fence, destroying some cameras, spraying them out,” explained Gercis. ”[They] entered into our cage area where all our freezer foods are at, packed all that up in trash cans and then made their way up to the top of the roof in which they entered through the hatch.”
Security footage shows one suspect walking towards the back door before smashing the security camera with a crowbar multiple times.
The suspects broke into the building and within minutes, quickly snatched anything they could find. Gercis said they went into the liquor room and attempted to break into an ATM machine and a safe.
“They were here for hard cash,” said Gercis. “And damage? My guestimate — 20 plus thousand dollars.” The burglars got away with at least $1,200 dollars in cash, according to Gercis.
Moments later, police arrive and are seen chasing the two suspects throughout the building. In a frightening moment, as Gercis stands outside of the building, one suspect smashes through the glass front door while officers chase after him.
Despite a frightening situation, local veterans say they will continue persevering. The American Legion Post in Redlands is a spot where veterans and locals have been gathering for more than a century.
“It’s not going to slow us down one bit,” said Rudy Yglesias, American Legion Post 106 finance officer. “We’re still going to push forward with our Veteran’s Day parade at Jenny Davis Park.”
Just an hour before the American Legion burglary, nearby Redlands Animal Hospital on Colton Avenue was also burglarized by the same suspects, police said.
Similar elements were found at both heists including cutting the lock of a roof hatch before dropping into the building.
“We’re still under construction,” explained Dr. Ric Price, a Redlands Animal Hospital veterinarian. “So one of the contractors, the plumbers, all of his private tools were taken.”
One suspect still remains at large. Redlands Police are asking anyone with information to call 909-798-7681.